Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When Fuel-Efficient Hybrid Cars are a Bad Idea - Toyota's Environmentally Harmful Plan for Manufacturing the Prius

Toyota's Prius hybrids have been a huge hit since the first version was launched some years ago. The cars are very fuel efficient, though the technology used is not quite the be all and end all as Toyota and the Prius's many fans would have you believe, because lower tech cars like the Volkswagen Jetta diesel have proven as fuel efficient in a combined in-city and highway cycle. Some experts have criticized the use of Nickel in the Prius's batteries as a major environmental issue, though I am not sure if the alternative of emitting more burnnt petrol gases into the atmosphere is an acceptable substitute.

However, there is a completely different reason why Toyota needs to be opposed and the Prius boycotted, that is, unless they reverse their decision over where to manufacture it. Autoblog Green has this piece about Toyota planning to destroy 17th century rice paddies to build more Priuses. It is not only the destruction of the paddies that I am concerned about. The cars will be built in Japan and then shipped to the USA and other countries burning (and polluting the atmosphere at that) huge amounts of oil. Why on earth can't Toyota just build them in the USA, their biggest market for these cars? They do build excellent trucks here in Texas and cars in California and some other locations, after all . . . The Autoblog Green post about Toyota's ridiculous plan is at this link:

Fortunately, for someone contemplating a hybrid in order to show fossil fuels a tiny fist (they do burn gasoline after all) there are options other than the Prius. Honda's new Insight is a nice car if somewhat smaller than the Toyota. And, if you want a bigger car, Ford has its Fusion Hybrid (and its up-scale Mercury Milan version which I plan to buy shortly) which is less fuel efficient than the Prius but a lot bigger, mroe comfortable, and, if you want a Toyota comparison, a better car by every report out there than the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Please do your bit to knock some sense into Toyota - if you are contemplating buying a Prius, don't. At least, not until the company decides to preserve the paddies and adopt less environmentally harmful manufacturing practices. Thank you!

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